Walk 30: Harlestone Firs Circular

The ‘Needs to Know’

Distance: 2 miles (3.22 km)

Time to walk: You can do this one in 30 mins, but there’s so many paths &, if the weather’s good, it’s well worth exploring other parts of these lovely woods

Difficulty: Flat & mainly on forest paths. This area tends to drain well, but in early February there were some muddy patches

Parking: Plenty of parking on the side of the road opposite the entrance. Be careful though as it’s a really busy road

Public toilets: In the garden centre opposite the entrance or at The Fox & Hounds Pub further down the road

Map of the route: @ ‘Footpaths for Fitness’

Situated on the edge of Northampton, Harlestone Firs is popular woodland area at all times of the year.

Covering 300 acres it’s a  favourite with walkers, dog walkers, joggers and particularly mountain bikers. The land is owned by the Althorp Estate, Althorp House the childhood home of Princess Diana being just down the road and has open access

Although mainly fir trees, the woods do have other varieties especially many of the newer plantations

The woods also contain a sawmill & we’ll pass this on our walk. The route taken on this short walk is courtesy of ‘Footpaths for Fitness’ although we will take other parts of the woods in again n other walks

So….let’s go!!

1. Our walk starts at the main entrance into the woodlands. The road below leads to the sawmill…

The main entrance

The main entrance

Beautiful place at all times of the year

Beautiful place at all times of the year

…but instead of following the road we’re going to turn sharp left along the path below…

2. On the right here there’s a lot of new planting going on…

Interesting tree shapes

Interesting tree shapes

3. The track’s quite easy to follow along here and, thanks to the sandy soil, is quite dry after all the rain we’ve had this winter…

…on the left is a huge casualty of the recent high winds. This was taller than us!!

We could hear lots of birdsong around this area, but spotting them was more difficult!

4. Although early February the mild winter means that spring’s waiting to burst into life…

…keep following the track straight on but beware the activities going on around here…

5. At the top of the rise the track bends round to the right there’s a further new plantation ahead…

…however we need to take the left hand track just before it…

…& then turn right before the fence below…

6. The track along here was pretty muddy…

Great colours

Great colours

…but when we reach the junction we need to head straight across…

Again the track's quite clear although muddy

Again the track’s quite clear although muddy

7. Remember we mentioned the sawmill? Well it can be seen through the trees on the right although we’ll pass the main entrance later

Just on the left here we also noticed an old tree stump that had obviously been used as a feasting table by some squirrels

Remains of a feast!

Remains of a feast!

8. The track was now becoming very muddy, but we plough onwards…

Fabulous trees...

Fabulous trees…

…& we need to take the right hand path up the slope

9. On the right there’s another new plantation…

There's still plenty of colour around...

There’s still plenty of colour around…

You can see why they're called 'silver' birches

You can see why they’re called ‘silver’ birches

…& when we come to the junction below we need to turn right

10. The path ahead is straight & well marked – we can hear the sawmill now…

Some more young birches on the right

Some more young birches on the right

…& on the left there’s more signs that spring isn’t far away

Sprouting gorse...

Sprouting gorse…

The sawmill's on the right

The sawmill’s on the right

11. At the T-Junction we turn right along the tarmac road which we’re now going to follow back to the entrance

As the road bends round to the right there’s plenty of other trails going off to the left, some of them leading down to Northamptonshire County Golf Club. We’ll cover this in a long field walk in the summer

12. Ok…now we simply follow the tarmac track back to where we left the car…

So that’s the end of our short walk in Harlestone Firs.

It really is worth exploring these woods at all times of the year & just losing yourself along all the different footpaths.

Today was just a quick visit, but we’ll come back here in later walks

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